Romans 8:5 teaches: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”One of the most important reminders verse 8:5 provides is of the importance of turning to God for guidance, both as children of God and as American citizens.
As our nation celebrates Independence Day, it is a time of national pride and a time for us to reflect on how best to move forward with a shared vision for our country. As Christians, this sometimes presents challenges as we wrestle with integrating our lives as citizens and as believers in Jesus Christ. Although we all aspire to live according to the Spirit, there is sometimes a temptation in the American church to sanctify and canonize the Founding Fathers in the manner of Catholic Saints, thus, giving in to a morality based on worldly concerns. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it sometimes allows us to forget that the Founding Fathers were just as human as the rest of us. They struggled with the same everyday problems that have plagued human beings ever since Adam ate the forbidden fruit.
To think of Founders like Thomas Jefferson as saintly not only lends to a potentially foolish veneration of fallible human beings, it discourages us from emulating their virtues because it makes them inaccessible. For instance, it is not detracting but is, instead, endearing to recognize that Thomas Jefferson’s lack of interpersonal confidence led to struggles in his love life. As one author records, “His rambling, stammering, tongue-tied expression of affection for a young woman who caught his eye during his student days at the College of William and Mary failed to capture her interest.” 
Failing to recognize the humanity of our heroes not only leads one to the possibility of emulating potentially negative moral behavior but also cheapens the momentousness of their accomplishments in spite of their human frailties. This bears many lessons for modern politics, especially in the wake of the messy disputes that seem to characterize mainstream political engagement.
As part of our idealization of the Founders, we often think of the 1700s as a time of political purity when people were above petty disputes. This leads us to respond with derision to incidents like a squabble that has erupted in Tarrant County, Texas, over a private fireworks business in a primarily rural neighborhood. In an effort to thwart the fireworks business, a local homeowner had their property legally declared the “Church of Peace and Quiet” since local regulations prevent a fireworks business from operating within a certain parameter near a “church.” Stories like this can lead one to lose faith in the modern political process. However, appreciating the human failings of the Founding Generation teaches us that such shenanigans are nothing new.
Take the second president of the United States, John Adams, who is described by one blogger as responding in the following manner to unflattering news reports: “Jefferson’s supporters had the nasty habit of ridiculing Adams in their newspapers and amongst themselves…As retaliation, [Adams] passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, making it illegal to criticize the government in print.”  While the author’s description oversimplifies the issue, it succinctly calls attention to the fact that Adams was unwilling to support the Freedom of the Press when the press’s freedoms no longer supported him. Such immaturity seems more appropriate for 2023 than 1798. Even so, as Christians, stories like this should not be surprising.
We know that we live in a fallen world, but our hope in Christ sets us apart. As 1 Corinthians 15:22 teaches: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”Christians should not derive their morality or sense of national vision solely from an idealization of the Founders because to do so would not only a) use the standards of the world to define the Goodness that only God can decree but b) would also cheapen the humble faith of the men themselves.
As we remember our country on Independence Day. We should be proud of our nation. Not because our Founders were perfect saints but because they accomplished such a monumental feat in spite of their imperfections and did so with their eyes turned reverently toward heaven.
The fact that they were not perfect means that there is hope for our polarized country. God bless the USA.
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